Paignton Zoo’s rare Sumatran tigers have had cubs. Shakira gave birth to three cubs at about 2.30am on Tuesday 31st May.
They are the first tiger cubs born at Paignton Zoo since early 2009. The cubs will not be mobile for many weeks. CCTV cameras donated by Crimehalt Fire & Security captured the moment, providing a rare insight into the earliest moments in the lives of these fragile youngsters.
Mother and cubs will spend the next two months hidden from view. All being well, visitors might be able to see the cubs during the summer holidays. Zoo staff are working to erect video screens to show the recorded footage of the youngsters in the den. Male Fabi remains on show to the public.
Females typically give birth to between 2 and 4 blind cubs after about 103 days. The cubs can weigh about 1 kilo (2 pounds) at birth. They live on their mother’s milk for 6 to 8 weeks before moving on to meat, but remain dependant on their mother for about a year and a half; they can start hunting on their own at this age.
Staff will keep their distance over the next few weeks to give Shakira and her cubs as much peace and quiet as possible. It is important not to get human scent on the cubs if they are vet checked. They will have vaccinations at 10-12 weeks, 16 weeks, six months and one year and be micro chipped at 10-12 weeks.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park and Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said: “While visitors cannot see the cubs yet, we wanted to share our good news. Shakira is mothering well. We hope the youngsters will be out and about by the summer holidays. In the meantime, we hope to put up video screens to show recorded clips of the new arrivals in the den.”
Paignton Zoo is a member of the European Endangered species Programme (EEP) for Sumatran tigers, which means it is part of the global effort to save this endangered species from extinction. Captive and wild populations are protected and managed in an attempt to prevent Sumatran tigers following the Bali and Javan tigers into extinction.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring (01803) 697500.